The Formation of Marriage and Family

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CHAPTER 4 THE CENTRAL ASPECTS OF THE LIFE STRUCTURE DURING EARLY ADULTHOOD

Introduction

A study of the life structure, during early adulthood, implies that attention must be given to the central components of the life structure,namely marriage, family and work, during this era of development(Levinson, 1986). The formation of love relationships, marriage and family, and the formation of occupation are the crucial tasks of the Novice Phase of early adulthood, according to Levinson. These components can be referred to as the 11 contexts of development 11 which include the inner context of development, or physical and intellectual change; the personal context, or intimacy and marriage; and the expanded context, or work, occupation and career (Evans & Poole, 1991; Stevens-Long & Commons, 1992). These components are interlinked because they affect and are affected by each other (Okun, 1984; Schein, 1978).The present chapter contains a review of recent research and theory relating to these central aspects of the life structure during early adulthood, that is the personal and expanded context of intimacy,marriage, parenting and work.The chapter will begin with a focus on the transition to adulthood – the process of the youth becoming an adult – as this is a pivotal point in the development of the adult life structure, where an individual is confronted with critical decisions concerning all aspects of the life structure, especially work and family roles. Recent research concerning these two roles will then be examined. First, research relating to love, intimacy, marriage and parenthood will be presented, with reference to the tasks, meaning and impact of these processes. This will be followed by a discussion of career development across the life span, including a focus on the stage models of career development, which share similarities with Levinson’s (1978) model of development. After a critique of stage models of career development, an alternative contextual view of career development will be presented, which could provide a useful framework for understanding career development in the lives of the black men in the present research. This will be followed with a brief discussion of the different ways in which individuals cope with career changes and transitions. The chapter will conclude with an examination of the relationship between the two important domains of work and family.Although much of the research and theory to be reviewed is limited by its cultural specificity, being more relevant to white middle class adults, it is useful research because it raises some important issues and questions appropriate to Levinson’s model and this research. These questions and issues will be highlighted at the end of each section. The Transition to Adulthood This section will discuss the transition to adulthood with reference to the timing of this transition and the tasks that the young adult has to confront. Reference will be made to the specific tasks and difficulties that black adults have to confront during this transition. Gerdes et al. (1988, p.76) point out that it is difficult to define youth, or the period of transition into adulthood, precisely, but volunteers the following definition:
Youth is the period during which individuals prepare themselves for adult responsibilities and roles relating to their occupation, marriage and parenthood, and define their identity, values and goals in respect of these. This period extends from approximately 18 to 22 years. The timing of the entry into these roles dur~ng the transition to adulthood is influenced by many factors (Marini, 1985; 1987). These include the person’s educational attainment, and the age of leaving school. Lack of financial resources often forces the person to enter the role of full-time worker relatively early. Opportunity also influences the taking of a role during this transition – a role change can only occur if the opportunity is there (for example a full-time job can only be obtained if there is a job opening) . Lastly, the individual’s expectations and orientation towards a particular role will affect the timing of the entry into the role (for example, a positive orientation towards education will influence the person’s desire to pursue education) . Rangell (1990) refers to the transitional age of 17 as the « portal of adult life » as it is a crossroads in which the person has to make active and critical decisions concerning all aspects of the life structure, including work, family and other relationships. This crossroad is marked by a « rush to find a place in the world » (Chamberlain, 1989, p.8) which involves the negotiation of various development tasks. These tasks are grounded in the crucial development challenge of leaving home, and establishing a sense of individuation. The key issue is the extent to which the young adult can replace emotional involvement and dependency on parents, with a sense of autonomy (Crawley, 1985) . This sense of autonomy can take various forms (Frank, Avery & Laman, 1988). The « individuated » young adult feels affirmed by parents, and often seeks their advice while still feeling separate from them. The « competent connected » young adult is very independent, and has different views and beliefs to parents, but is able to understand and empathise with them. The « pseudoautonomous » young adult will avoid conflict with parents by disengaging from them. The « identified » young adult views parents as being supportive, identifies with their values and beliefs, and feels close to them. The « dependent » young adult has an insecure relationship with parents, but cannot cope without them. The « conflicted » profile, which emerged in relation to fathers, is marked by contradictory feelings of wanting to be close to the father, but feeling ashamed of the father at the same time.

1 INTRODUCTION
General Introduction
Definition of Terms
The Life Structure
Early Adulthood
Research into Adult Development
Reasons for Focusing on Black South African Men
Aim and Rationale of the Study
Some Research Questions
The Design of the Study
The Research Instrument
The Analysis of the Data
The Sample
The Format of the Study
Conclusion
2 STAGE THEORIES OF ADULT DEVELOPMENT
General Introduction
Earlier Stage Theories
The Psychosocial Theory of Erik Erikson
The Psychosocial Stages
Robert Havinghurst’s Theory of Developmental Tasks
Conclusion
Contemporary Stage Theories 
Daniel Levinson’s Theory of the Evolution of the Life
Structure 
The Early Adult Transition – EAT (17-22) 
Entering the Adult World – EAW (23-28)
The Age Thirty Transition – ATT (28-33) 
The Major Tasks of the Novice Phase 
Settling Down – SD: Building a Second Adult Life
Structure (33-39) 
Middle Adulthood (40-65)
Evaluation of Levinson’s Theory 
« Levinsonian » Research 
Levinsonian Research Concerning Black Adult Development 
Coping Strategies Across the Life Span 
Levinsonian Research Conducted with Other Cultures 
Levinsonian Research Concerning Women’s Adult Development
Other Clarifications of Levinson’s Theory 
Conclusion 
3 NON-STAGE THEORIES AND RESEARCH 
Introduction 
The Contextual Perspective of Development 
The Dialectical Perspective 
The Interactional Perspective 
Implications of the Dialectical and Interactional Views 
The Life Events Framework 
Evaluation and Implications of the Life Events Framework 
Constructivist Model of Adult Development and the Role of
Planning During Adult Development
Implications of the Constructivist Model, and the Role of Planning
Stability and Change Across the Life Span 
Implications of Stability and Change Across the Life Span
Conclusion: Towards a Broader Conception of the Life
Structure 
4 THE CENTRAL ASPECTS OF THE LIFE STRUCTURE DURING EARLY ADULTHOOD 
Introduction
The Transition to Adulthood 
Forming Love Relationships, Marriage and Family 
Love and Intimacy 
Marriage 
Parenthood 
Forming an Occupation
Stage Models of Career Development 
The Initial Choice
Entering the World of Work 
Establishment 
Consolidation
Criticisms of Stage Models of Career Development
The Developmental-Contextual Model of Career Development
Coping with Career Transitions and Changes 
The Relationship Between work and Family Roles 
Conclusion 
5 DEVELOPMENTAL RESEARCH IN SOUTH AFRICA 
Introduction 
Psychosocial Development Across the Life Span 
Quality of Life and Life world Research
Research Focusing on the Impact of Life Events
Research Concerning Locus of Control
Aspects of the Life Structure: The Formation of Marriage,
Family and Career
The Formation of Marriage and Family
Love and Intimacy
The Meaning Attached to Labola
The Meaning of Marriage and the Quality of the
Marital Relationship
Fatherhood
Marital Breakdown 
The Formation of Career 
The Meaning of Work, and the Initial Career Choice 
Impediments to Career Development 
The Meaning of Unemployment 
Conclusion: Towards a More Relevant Definition of the
Life Structure
6.RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Introduction 
Qualitative Research with Reference to Adult Development 
The Qualitative Approach in the Present Study 
Qualitative Research 
Motivation for Choosing the Qualitative Approach
Validity and Reliability in Qualitative Research
The Role of the Researcher
Transparency in Qualitative Research 
The Reliability and Validity of the Present Research 
The Psychobiographical Framework and Biographical
Interviewing
Psychobiography
Qualitative Interviewing
Biographical Interviewing
The Strengths and Weaknesses of Qualitative
Interviewing
The Analysis of the Data
Grounded Theory
Theoretical Sampling
Data Reduction Through Open Coding
Developing the Theory Through Axial Coding
Grounding the Theory Through Selective Coding
Framework for Analysis
Stage 1: Chronicle of Marker Events
Stage 2: Narrative Summary
Stage 3: Interpretive (Developmental) Summary
Stage 4: Collective Analysis
Stage 5: Comparative Analysis
A Brief Personal Statement
Summary
7 THE EARLY ADULT LIFE STRUCTURE OF C (INFORMANT 1)
Identifying Information
Introduction
Biography: The Life of C
Analysis of C’s Life According to Levinson’s Framework
Pre-Adult Years
Early Adult Transition (EAT)
Entering the Adult World (EAW)
Age Thirty Transition (ATT)
Settling Down (SD)
Major Tasks of the Novice Phase
Forming and Living out the Dream
Forming Mentor Relationships
Forming an Occupation
Forming a Marriage and Family
Synopsis
8 THE EARLY ADULT LIFE STRUCTURE OF F (INFORMANT 2)
Identifying Information
Introduction
Biography: The Life of F
Analysis of F’s Life According to Levinson’s Framework
Pre-Adult Years
Early Adult Transition (EAT)
Entering the Adult World (EAW)
Age Thirty Transition (ATT)
Major Tasks of the Novice Phase
Forming and Living out the Dream
Forming Mentor Relationships
Forming an Occupation
Forming a Marriage and Family
Synopsis
9 THE EARLY ADULT LIFE STRUCTURE OF M (INFORMANT 3)
Identifying Information
Introduction
Biography: The Life of M
Analysis of M’s Life According to Levinson’s Framework
Pre-Adult Years
Early Adult Transition (EAT)
Entering the Adult World (EAW)
Age Thirty Transition (ATT)
Major Tasks of the Novice Phase
Forming and Living out the Dream
Forming Mentor Relationships
Forming an Occupation
Forming a Marriage and Family
Synopsis
10 THE EARLY ADULT LIFE STRUCTURE OF J (INFORMANT 4)
Identifying Information
Introduction
Biography: The Life of J
Follow up Interview
Analysis of J’s Life According to Levinson’s Framework
Pre-Adult Years
Early Adult Transition (EAT)
Entering the Adult World (EAW)
Age Thirty Transition (ATT)
Major Tasks of the Novice Phase
Forming and Living out the Dream
Forming Mentor Relationships
Forming an Occupation
Forming a Marriage and Family
Synopsis
11 THE EARLY ADULT LIFE STRUCTURE OF N (INFORMANT 5)
Identifying Information
Introduction
Biography: The Life of N
Analysis of N’s Life According to Levinson’s Framework
Pre-Adult Years
Early Adult Transition (EAT)
Entering the Adult World (EAW)
Age Thirty Transition (ATT)
Settling Down (SD)
Major Tasks of the Novice Phase
Forming and Living out the Dream
Forming Mentor Relationships
Forming an Occupation
Forming a Marriage and Family
Synopsis
12 THE EARLY ADULT LIFE STRUCTURE OF D (INFORMANT 6)
Identifying Information
Introduction
Biography: The Life of D
Analysis of D’s Life According to Levinson’s Framework
Pre-Adult Years
Early Adult Transition (EAT)
Entering the Adult World (EAW)
Age Thirty Transition (ATT)
3ettling Down (SD)
Major Tasks of the Novice Phase
Forming and Living out the Dream
Forming Mentor Relationships
Forming an Occupation
Forming a Marriage and Family
Synopsis
13 THE EARLY ADULT LIFE STRUCTURE OF B (INFORMANT 7)
Identifying Information
Introduction
Biography: The Life of B
Analysis of B’s Life According to Levinson’s Framework
Pre-Adult Years
Early Adult Transition (EAT)
Entering the Adult World (EAW)
Age Thirty Transition (ATT)
Settling Down (SD)
Major Tasks of the Novice Phase
Forming and Living out the Dream
Forming Mentor Relationships
Forming an Occupation
Forming a Marriage and Family
Synopsis
14 THE EARLY ADULT LIFE STRUCTURE OF P (INFORMANT 8)
Identifying Information
In+-,roduction
Biography: The Life of P
Analysis of P’s Life According to Levinson’s Framework
Pre-Adult Years
Early Adult Transition (EAT)
Entering the Adult World (EAW)
Age Thirty Transition (ATT)
Settling Down (SD)
Major Tasks of the Novice Phase
Forming and Living out the Dream
Forming Mentor Relationships
Forming an Occupation
Forming a Marriage and Family
Synopsis
15 COLLECTIVE ANALYSIS
Introduction 
The Evolving Life Structure
Pre-Adult years 
Early Adult Transition (EAT)
Entering the Adult World (EAW) 
Age Thirty Transition (ATT) 
Settling Down (SD) 
The Major Tasks of the Novice Phase 
Forming and Living out the Dream 
Forming Mentor Relationships 
Forming an Occupation 
Forming a Marriage and Family 
Synopsis of Major Themes 
The Impact of Traditional and Cultural Beliefs on the
Evolution of the Life Structure 
The Impact of Socio-Economic Constraints on the
Evolution of the Life Structure
The Impact of Prejud~ce and Discrimination on the
Evolution of the Life Structure
Coping Strategies
Passivity and Impotence
Strength and Affirmation
Introspection and the Perception of Change Across
the Life Span
Planning and Goal Directedness Across the Life Span
16 COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS
Introduction
Comparison of Research Findings
The Evolving Life Structure
The Major Tasks of the Novice Phase
Forming and Living out the Dream
Forming Mentor Relationships
Forming an Occupation
Forming a Marriage and Family
Theoretical Application of research Findings
Towards a Model of Black Psychosocial Development
The Dialectical Basis of the Model of Black
Psychosocial Development
An Integration of the Life Events Framework and Role
Strain Perspective
Practical Application
Conclusions and Implications
17 CONCLUSION
Critical Evaluation of the Study
Evaluation of the Research Method 
Implications for Future Research 
Summary

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THE EARLY ADULT LIFE STRUCTURE OF URBAN BLACK MEN

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